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Wrestling eyes more women's classes for Rio Games

Friday - 8/10/2012, 1:34pm  ET

AP Sports Writer

LONDON (AP) - Wrestling's governing body wants the number of women's weight categories at the Olympics to increase from four to seven by the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Raphael Martinetti, president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, said Friday the International Olympic Committee previously rejected adding three women's divisions.

Martinetti said the IOC doesn't want to go beyond 10,000 athletes for the Olympics. But he said his group will begin a push in September to persuade the IOC to allow more women's weight classes for Rio.

"My understanding is that the potential is absolutely huge for women's wrestling," he said.

Seven weight classes are contested in men's freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling at the Olympics. Martinetti said discussions about having the same number of men's and women's weight classes started in 2008 in response to a rapidly increasing membership.

The governing body oversees 183 countries, a jump from 130 five years ago, he said. Of those members, all but Iran offer women's wrestling.

"The IOC has agreed to increase the number of categories if it actually brings something new to the sport, and I think that this is the case," Martinetti said.

Martinetti said the federation is open to discussing the possibility of allowing Iranian women wrestlers to wear head guards or longer garments in keeping with their beliefs. He said discussions with Iranian officials have not begun yet.

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